How Government Works

27 September 2019
  • Central government
  • Local government

This interactive one-day course is designed to give participants an overview of how the UK Government works and the role and impact of ministers. It uses current examples to develop insight into the way policies develop from the ideas of campaigners and lobbyists through public consultation to legislation.

Who will benefit from attending?

Everyone who needs and wants to increase their understanding of the structure, personalities and processes of Government.  This includes building insight into the roles of ministers and civil servants and understanding the influences in the decision-making process.   

Learning outcomes 

At the end of the course participants will have:

  • Developed their knowledge of the structure and functions of government departments, Parliament and the wider public sector – including the impact of devolution
  • Know the roles of key players from ministers to civil servants;
  • Enhanced their understanding of how ideas and proposals are handled in government
  • Understood how ministers interact with Parliament
  • Explored how Government uses communications to inform and shape behaviours.

Organisational benefit

Organisations will be able to draw on staff who understand the processes of government and the political environment in which policy-making professionals operate.  


09.45 Welcome and registration

10.00 Aspirations for the day

An opportunity to share experience and expectations for the day

10.15 The structure and culture of the UK Government

An exploration of the current political environment and the shape of the UK Government – Where the power lies and where the power is divided between the UK and the devolved authorities

11.00 Refreshment break

11.15 Understanding how ministers think and work

Using practical exercises to build insight into the ministerial psyche.  In groups participants identify what drives ministers and who influences them and develop strategies for more effective working with ministers.

12.00 The role of the Civil Service

In a tutor-led discussion participants will explore the structure of the Civil Service, the Code under which they operate and the role of Special Advisers.  Propriety: a quick quiz to identify what is and what isn’t acceptable under the Civil Service Code.

12.30 From Advocacy to Policy

Introduction to the policy ideas process and exercises to identify the influences on Government.

13.00 Lunch

13.45 Government-Parliament Relations 

The role of Parliament in holding Government to account

Practical exercises exploring how MPs uncover information, including using parliamentary questions.

14.15 Practical work on a current case study

Participants will work through an issue currently being considered by Ministers.  The case study will reinforce the learning of the day.

15.30 Refreshment break

15.45 Beyond information

The use of communication in Government to inform and shape behaviours

Exercises in developing relevant messages and communication campaigns

16.30 Final Question and Answer                                                                                                         

16.45 Close